Keith couldn’t figure out what to do with himself upon Lesli’s sudden reappearance. Wanted to walk across the floor but couldn’t move. Helen said in his ear, “If you don’t go over to that woman, I will personally kick your behind 12 ways to Sunday. You feel me?”
He moved. Lesli smiled, having no idea what Helen had said. But sensed that St. James wasn’t an enemy. Was on her side. Wanted to see her man back with her.
Keith willed himself to walk across the floor. Lesli watched him walk toward her and teared up. When he got to her, touching her cheek, caressing her hair, she planted a kiss on him that really did not belong in public.
“Why don’t you two go get a room?” That, of course, was Luis.
Keith and Lesli both laughed, nearly collapsing, holding each other up. She rubbed her nose on his. “You do still love me. I can tell.”
Luis just had to say, “No, that’s just a pencil in his pocket.”
Keith muttered, “If that fool doesn’t shut his mouth…”
Lesli giggled, went over and gave Luis a hug. “You just keep talking, Louie. God bless you.” Luis hugged her back and, looking over Lesli’s shoulder, winked at Keith. Said to her, “Don’t I get a kiss, too?”
Luis grinned, puckered up and closed his eyes. Whereupon Keith hurried over and kissed his buddy square on the lips. Luis’ eyes flew open, he spit, sputtered and coughed. As everyone laughed.
Lesli hooked her arm under her man’s elbow. And, head on his shoulder, said with a sweet smile, “You still love me.”
“Yeah, I’m stupid that way.”
She grinned broad as a barn. Walking her away from the gang, out of their earshot, he said, “You still got some major explainin’ to do.”
“I know, I know.” She kept a good hold on him, leaning close. He loved feeling the weight of her. Reached an arm around, encircling her waist, resting on her hip. She draped her arms around his neck, looked him straight in the eye. She could see his hurt. He saw hers. “I panicked.”
“That’s the best you can do? You panicked?”
“Baby, I’ve already said I’m sorry.” She pulled his arms tighter around her. Said with that sexy smile of hers, “Forgive me?”
“You wrong, you know that. Wrong as two left shoes.”
“Yeah, but I’m getting my man back.” Then, she straightened up. “Is there someplace we can go, be alone and talk?”
“Clueless Luis has one more night in my bus. Hank and Mari, they won’t mind putting me up for the night, will they?”
“You kidding? I go back without you, they’ll make me sleep on the doorstep.”
“Well, can’t have that.” He looked around. By now pretty much everyone had split, leaving them to themselves. The production stage manager was tending to last-minute details, supervising the load-out. “Steve?”
“Yeah?” He looked up from his clipboard.
“I’m taking an authorized leave of absence. Anybody asks, you haven’t seen me.”
“Don’t even know who you are.”
“My man.” Keith and Lesli left out and caught a cab. Said hardly a word the whole trip. Just sat, content, in stillness, his arm around her shoulder, her hand on his thigh. Looking out at the night.
Next week: Keith finds himself hanging with Hank and Mari…again.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.